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Artificial intelligence may be the future of mobile ads, says Forrester report

Woman on a cell phone while in front of a tablet
Wang Zhao | AFP | Getty Images

Move over desktop: Mobile is the future of online purchases and commerce, thanks to its ability to connect with location-based and personalized data.

Forrester's new report "Predictions 2017: Mobile is the Face of Digital," scheduled to be publicly released Tuesday, explains that mobile has become the new pathway for consumers find brands — and it is moving past the traditional social media app. Advertisers will increasingly use mobile to connect next year using chatbots, other artificial intelligence-enabled platforms like Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa and messaging apps, the report said.

The company previously said that people spend more than two hours a day on mobile, and that by 2019 the majority of our billion websites will be on mobile.

"The magic of mobile is the immediacy," said Julie Ask, principal analyst at Forrester and co-author of the report. "It's the 'I'm hungry now,' 'I forgot to by a birthday gift for my mom' now immediacy rather than long drawn out sessions."

However, a previous Forrester report estimated that mobile commerce transactions would reach $142 billion in 2016, adding that mobile accounts for about one-third of website traffic but only 11 percent of sales. One of the issues is that mobile screens are still relatively small and people like seeing something on a bigger screen or in-person before making a purchase, said Forrester senior analyst Jennifer Wise.

But mobile is expected to sway about about $1 trillion in sales, more than desktop and the Web, Ask said. "Mobile influence" includes seeing something first on your phone and then going in store to buy it, or learning more about a product on your phone before eventually purchasing it later online.

"The desktop is still necessary for exploration, but mobile is something that can be short-changed when it comes to this strategy," Wise said.

Coupon and deal aggregator RetailMeNot is seeing more brand partners work with them for the purpose of driving in-store foot traffic. Companies are partnering with it to find out where customers are based on location-based mobile data. RetailMeNot's app can send push notifications on people's phones to encourage them to take advantage of deals when they are nearby local stores.

"More brands are realizing the importance of mobile as a cross-channel consideration driver to help consumers in this early stage of discovery," said Marissa Tarleton, chief marketing officer of RetailMeNot.

What mobile provides is a way to personalize experiences more than the desktop ever could, said Christopher Dean, CEO of mobile marketing company Swrve. Using machine learning and browsing and location-based data, mobile apps allow brands to determine what customer will like and when — potentially even before they want it.

Swrve worked with a luxury online retailer using first party customer data from Salesforce to determine what customers wanted in real-time. Using a mixture of push notifications based on personalized data, it was able to increase sales revenue for the company by 30 percent.

"Mobile is all about information coming to me when I want it, in a contextually important and highly personalized way," Dean said.